Consumer Reports: Not all tire treads performs equally

If car tires are not properly maintained, they can wear down and lead to an accident. (Photo by Lauren Michaels/Cronkite News)

Before you pack up and head out for your Thanksgiving trip, you may want to give your car some extra attention, especially your tires. It’s a simple step and could mean the difference between being stuck on the side of the road for Thanksgiving or seated at the dinner table with family and friends.

“I’m going to be packing it up, going down to see my mom and dad in Casa Grande,” said Robin Gordon, an Arizona native and Thanksgiving traveler, getting her car checked at Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair.

“Typically I’ll do like what I’m doing right now and bring the vehicle in for a full service inspection before I hit the road, she said. “It just gives me more confidence.”

Travel and auto experts say a full car inspection is important, especially after the damage inflicted by Arizona’s summer heat.

Howard Fleischmann, The owner of Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair, keeps it simple when advising about pre-travel inspections.

“You gotta start with your tires. That’s where the biggest problems are.”

By not taking care of your tires, it could lead to dangerous road situations. It can cause the rubber of the tire to wear down and possibly lead to an accident.

Consumer Reports recently tested 47 tires to check tread-wear claims. Many didn’t last as stated. For example, the report found that the tire warranty on the Continental TrueContact Tires is 90,000 miles, however the Consumer Reports projected 60,000.

The Nokian Entyre 2.0 tire scored even worse. The warranty states 80,000 miles, but the Consumer Reports projects 35,000.

Yet, some results were impressive. The Pirelli P4 Four Seasons Plus states their warranty as 90,000 miles, but the Consumer Reports evaluated that they will last about 100,000 miles.

Once learning about this Consumer Reports, how do you know if your tires are safe to drive on this holiday season?

“People will stand back and look at the tire and people will say ‘It looks pretty good,’ Fleischmann says. “But in fact, if they got underneath the car, they would find that the tread is actually in danger in some spots.”

To check the tread life of your tire you can also do something as simple as “the penny test.” Place a penny on the wear bar of your tire, if you don’t see Lincoln’s head then it’s still a healthy tire. However, if you do see Lincoln’s head, then it’s time to buy new tires.

For some people, it all comes down to cost. Experts say investing in better tires could lead to traveling stress-free and overall, ensure a safer drive.

“I’ve had a lower cost tire,” Gordon said. “The tread, honestly if they said it was a 40,000 mile tire, even with regular rotation just barely made it.”

Fleischmann said most independent tire stores and garages offer free ‘pre-travel inspections.’ They will be able to tell you if your tires are safe to drive on for your trip, depending on where your holiday destination may be.